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when product market fit isn't enough
four model fit by brian balfour (ceo of reforge, x-hubspot)
product market fit is a metric that vc investors use for a product that has found it’s customer base and is dialed in to scale (usually series a and after funding).
while this is the first step in designing a scalable venture, seems to not work in education industry as there are other challenges to solve simultanesouly:
for example, in marketing a new program or platform in education, the main mental model of most customers is not “oh, awesome, new product or platform, let’s try it to decide if we like it” but usually “i don’t trust this. it’s not a brand name institution, therefore it must be a scam.” there’s a negative trust barrier to overcome with doubt v. a neutral stance.
for channels, there is no real source of truth as news headlines of scarcity of admits or reaction videos show the point of getting into a place. this hardly covers the experiene or journey within. some youtubers start to play off the prestige to play through a day in the life of, but these seem to be visual walkthroughs more than demos of what’s being learned or built.
^ these two challenges are enough to kill any vc backed education startup because a great product in a ripe market for disruption is not enough.
i like brian balfours four fit model to bridge the gap in nuanced understanding. the funny thing is b2c in education may need a b2b level complexity, where the different fits need to be dialed in and updated simultaneously.
first, to understand the model, let’s look at the first two parts and first fit.
who is this for?
what problem is being solved for them?
what category of product are they putting you in?
what is their main motivation? (h/t kunal shah for utlity v. emotional)
core vale prop - how does this tie directly to the problem?
hook - how can this be expressed in the simplest terms? (h/t yc one sentence pitch with the what before the why)
time to value - how quickly can the target audience experience value?
stickiness - how and why will customers stick around? what are natural retention mechanisms in the product?
product market fit is about connecting the dots between these two (look at his example, as i make my own…).
then measuring product market fit can be in retention curves leveling out over time:
which can be measured by proxy of quality of experience. here’s an example from superhuman’s early days in finding product market fit. they fine tuned their 22% to 58% after cohort analysis and fine tuning who this was for.
next. coming up in another 25min of working on analgous example for education, then onto step 2.